CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Six year old Tristan and his sister eight year old Trinity both have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
"He got diagnosed earlier and got more help earlier than she did and that made a world of difference with him," said their mother, Edwinna Schuster.
Now a screening test called the Rapid ABC screening test can help more parents like Edwinna get to a positive or negative diagnosis at an earlier age. During the screening test, doctors see how toddlers respond to simple tasks like having their name called or looking at a book. A software program computes a score. If autism is suspected, further, testing is done and it can be administered to children as early as 14 to 15 months old.
"So taking this population on 14 months is a challenge but important. The sooner we can identify children for autism, sooner we can intervene," said Dr. Patricia Manning Courtney, Director at the Kelly O'Leary Center for Autism Spectrum disorders at Children's Hospital.
Not only gives parents peace of mind, and get their child early intervention, but it's also fast. It takes five minutes.
Edwinna Schuster remembers when she had her children screened.
"Oh it seemed like hours, child in separate room. Hard to watch what they couldn't do. A shorter test would be great," she said.
But some pediatricians feel even five minutes is a waste of time for a child that young. Persuading parents who have a gut feeling to just wait.
"I still hear it. I heard it this morning," said Edwinna. "I knew at 18 months something was wrong and no reason for that to happen."
"What's the worse that can happen, told children fine? That's what we hope," said Courtney
Researchers say the goal is to make Rapid ABC testing part of regular pediatric checkups at least at 18 months.